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Matthew 28:16-20 – The Great Commission
The side streets of a city are always a challenge at night. Tourists stay away from those areas and even residents tend to stay inside their homes. It’s so different from the daytime when the streets are packed with cars, the sidewalks are full of hustling people all in a hurry to go somewhere through the noise of impatient taxis honking their horns, and the din of the revving motors of vehicles inching along in the log-jammed traffic. And yet, this is home to millions of people who are always watching for anything unusual. Just an ordinary evening, and yet any ordinary evening could turn very different in a few seconds.
The weather had become unusually cold this winter evening. The wind was brisk, and there were snowflakes and sleet mixing to sting the faces of those few who were brave enough to be going somewhere. Davis, recently released from prison, was trying to put his life back together. He was temporarily living with his sister and had recently been hired by a construction firm. It wasn’t the type of job he wanted, but God was providing for his needs, so he was thankful for the progress he saw in his life in just a couple of months. After a long day at work he had taken the train to get back to where it would be an easy few minutes of walking to get to his sister’s place. As he walked along, reminding himself to always be on the alert, he was also dreaming and planning the life ahead of him.
Davis had been one tough dude all his life and that is what got him in trouble most of the time. Inmates stayed away from him because, “…you don’t mess with Davis, he will break your face…” But one day, after years of fighting people and fighting God, Davis listened to the testimony of another inmate who showed the love of Christ to him. He bowed his head and put his trust in Jesus, praying the “sinner’s prayer” to express his faith in Christ. From that time on the fighting was over. He was a changed man and now part of God’s family.
As the wind whipped the icy sleet across his face, Davis just wanted to get home where it was warm and secure. He was startled as he heard the screams of a man staggering toward him, begging for help. As the man fell in the street, Davis saw that blood covered the man’s face and clothing. “I’ve been stabbed,” the man groaned, “Please help me!” Davis took his borrowed cell phone and called 911 to report his location. As the sirens of emergency vehicles and the police could be heard in the distance, Davis wrote his cell number on a piece of scrap paper and slid it in the man’s jacket pocket, as he cradled the man in his arms.
The man was bleeding profusely as the sirens drew closer. Davis looked at himself under the street light and noticed that he was covered with the man’s blood. It was warm and sticky and very uncomfortable to realize what he had just observed. He also thought about the few minutes he had to whisper comfort to the man before the emergency people arrived He remembered learning in prison that God places others across our path each day and we, as believers, are to show the love of Christ to them, and if the opportunity presents itself, share our faith in Christ with them. It’s called “Planting the seed of the gospel and letting the Holy Spirit work it into their heart so that the message will be harvested by that person giving their heart and life to Jesus.”
Davis quietly spoke to the man, asking him if he had ever asked forgiveness for his sins. The man faintly replied back that he had too many sins for any forgiveness stuff. Davis then told the man about Jesus, who died for his sins, and assured him that Jesus welcomes all who come to Him. He asked the young man if he would like to put his trust in Christ and become part of God’s family and get rid of all of those sins. The man indicated that he would, and repeated the words Davis used as he asked Jesus to forgive him from his sins, repenting for his bad life and asking Jesus into his heart and life. “Thank you Jesus, amen,” he said, so weak his voice was barely audible, as the emergency vehicles screeched to a stop at the curb and the paramedic rushed in to take over.
Davis stood up and backed away as the team worked on the man, and then quickly whisked him away to a nearby hospital. Davis was shaking, his hands trembling and his heart pounding. He saw a small fountain in front of an apartment complex nearby and tried to wash some of the blood and street grime from his hands and clothing. It was so bitterly cold that the water froze his clothes and stung his hands, making him shiver violently. He couldn’t wait to get home. He couldn’t stop at a store or warm building. He looked terrible and no one would want to hear his story … not in this neighborhood.
Sirens, violence, and street crime were not new to Davis, having lived in a big city all his life. But this had been a totally different situation. He had never been that close to someone who was stabbed. Getting ready for work the next day Davis was still struggling with how badly the man he had helped rescue was bleeding when his borrowed cell phone rang. It was the police calling from the hospital asking him if he was family or a friend of the injured man. Davis related to the police that he had just slipped his cell phone number into the man’s jacket pocket in case he needed someone to talk to for spiritual reasons. The police told Davis that they were trying to locate family and that the man had died during the night.
Davis was stunned! Then the realization of what had happened made him sit down and hold his head in his hands. He had helped the badly hurt man put his trust in Jesus last night, lying there on that icy cold, filthy street, and now the man was in Heaven. He was overwhelmed that God had placed him at that scene to give him the opportunity to have a part in the man’s salvation. Tears flowed easily as he thanked God for using him in such a profound way.
All day long, as Davis worked, his, mind often strayed to the episode of the previous night. He was full of joy and excitement, yet he was sad that the man had been murdered almost alone in the gutter. How could someone be so heartless? Yet, he knew this was an angry part of the city with a lot of violent people who would do anything to get what they wanted, or seek revenge for something they couldn’t get.
With his work day finished, Davis took the train back to his community. He took his wife out for dinner and had a delightful evening, sharing his story with her (his wife is a strong Christian and was staying in their apartment while Davis made his transition into society). He walked her back to their apartment and saw that she was safely inside, and then he started to walk to his sister’s home.
He was more alert as he walked deeper into the back streets, getting closer to where the episode of the prior evening took place. He knew the sounds of the area; he knew what to look for and he knew what could be unusual. Like a hunting dog, his senses were at their peak. But the enemy knows those same feelings and is aware of what not to give away to cause their “prey” to be suspicious.
All of a sudden, like a pack of hungry wolves chasing down a startled deer, Davis was jumped by a gang of thugs. They pounced him quietly, almost a stealth operation, tackling him and covering his head with a dirty, smelly coat. And then he felt the awful searing pain as someone ran a knife into his back. He could feel the warm blood wet his clothing as he lay in the street, writhing in pain, too weak to get on his feet.
The next thing he knew he was in a hospital and was told that he had twelve inches of stitches in his back, the knife barely missing several vital organs. The police came in and told him that they had caught several of the gang, who also confessed to the murder of the young man Davis had helped the night before. Davis thanked God that He had spared his life. He shared the story with his doctors and nurses, and today Davis is encouraged to talk about Jesus everywhere he goes.
These life stories don’t happen to people often, but the example here is that we should always be prepared, willing and obedient to share our faith in Jesus Christ whenever the opportunity arises. Davis is currently raising his young family and focusing on being a Godly father and a Christian example in his church and community. Thank God for men who are obedient as they follow the Scriptural commands written in God’s Word (Matthew 28:16-20) for all believers to follow.